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Creo Store by Sameep Padora & Associates, Mumbai, India

Local architect Sameep Padora designs a curvaceous mezzanine for Creo, an upmarket fashion boutique. Photography by Edmund Sumner

‘Creo is about fashion and the human body,’ explains architect Sameep Padora as he describes his design for an upmarket boutique that now occupies the interior of a dilapidated shop on Kemps Corner, in south Mumbai. ‘It’s also a direct response to retail,’ he continues, ‘inspired by the work of fashion designer Hussein Chalayan, whose garments are designed to be more than just one thing, such as dresses that become skirts.’ In a similar way, Padora wanted to create a single garment-like installation that would provide contrasting retail settings. With clarity and boldness, inspired by Chalayan’s innovative attitude, Padora also wanted to address the issue of context, producing an inhabitable display system that would sit within the building’s existing shell with the poise of a model on a catwalk.

Standing over 4m tall, the steel, cast resin and acrylic interior comprises four goblet-shaped modules arranged in a staggered interlocking configuration. By splitting each goblet in half and intertwining adjacent semi-circular forms, the modules sit more efficiently in the space, providing intimate display niches at ground level, sheltered by the bulbous mezzanine above.

This shift in phase tightens up the modules’ footprint, creating more residual space at the perimeter. It also induces movement and pace toan otherwise static composition or, as Padora puts it, ‘makes it sway in the same way that a model is able to make a straight line seem more dynamic’.

Another benefit of splitting the units is that it adds greater eccentricity to the modules’ truncated face, thus ‘resonating with the voluptuousness of the building’s ogee arched windows’.

Prefabricated and assembled on site, the structure comprises a lightweight mild steel frame, anchored to a new polished concrete floor. Fixed to the structure are curved sheets of Hanex, a versatile acrylic polymer (like DuPont’s Corian surface material). This forms a seamless white cloak that unifies the contours and provides a neutral background to Creo’s colourful garments. With changing, lighting and hanging rails all fully integrated, the end result is elegant, giving the boutique a suitably strong identity without obliterating the architectural qualities of the existing, aged building.

In contrast to the refinement of the new installation, the architect added simple wall linings where necessary, retained the building’s original timber ceiling joists throughout and, most subtly of all, added two modest awnings to the gently repaired shop-front elevation. In contrast to much of Mumbai’s new commercial architecture, Creo offers a sophisticated, alternative approach.

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